Runaway yogis, Tarot therapy, European origins, Brazilian Mermen, and magnetic galaxy bridges.

Monday May 22nd - Sunday May 28th
Stories from Daily Mail, Aeon, The Telegraph, Huffpost, and Mysterious Universe.

Dear wisdom keepers,

Thank you for your continued support. Because of you, I choose not to sleep throughout the day on Sunday.

And now, the stories:

CROOK POSE

Bikram Yoga guru flees the country to avoid arrest over $7 million settlement from sexual harassment suit.

Last Wednesday, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge issued an arrest warrant for Bikram Choudhury after he failed to hand over funds from his book sales and nearly 700 yoga studios to Minakshi 'Miki' Jafa-Bodden, his former lawyer who won a sexual harassment suit against the founder of hot yoga last year. He must also turn turn over a collection of 43 luxury cars, including 12 Rolls-Royces, eight Bentleys and three Ferraris.

Jafa-Bodden, who worked as head of legal affairs at Choudhury’s Los Angeles yoga school from 2011 to 2013, said he repeatedly harassed her, subjected her to obscene comments and then fired her when she tried to investigate another woman’s rape claims.

“The hardest problem in my life is stay away from women,” Choudhury told ABC News five years ago when allegations were beginning to emerge of groping students and colleagues. “Women like me but yogi supposed to be yogi.”

Besides Jafa-Bodden’s case, six other women have filed lawsuits against the 70-year-old yoga celebrity, with five alleging rape. The most recent rape complaint, filed in February 2015, comes from a Canadian woman who was 18 at the time. She used $10,000 from her college fund to pay for a teacher training but things turned sour when she was expected to massage Choudhury while watching Bollywood films.

Authorities believe Choudhury has hidden his assets and fled the country. If arrested, bail will be set at $8 million. The warrant will allow him to be arrested if he is found in the United States or Mexico.

UNCERTAIN FORTUNES

Tarot is both cold reading and a form of therapy.

British journalist James McConnachie examines the history of the Tarot, concluding that while its various origin myths are dubious, it channels the mystical interests of the what has been called the “anti-Enlightenment” or “counter-Enlightenment,” a period when secret societies and clubs flourished across Europe in the late 18th century.

The idea that the Tarot has its roots in Egypt, for example, stems from 1780s Paris where ancient Egypt was particularly fashionable among those interested in occultism. In 1781, Antoine Court de Gébelin visited a Madame la C d’H’ who was playing cards with other ladies. Court de Gébelin was seized by the conviction that the cards contained the remnants of Egyptian knowledge preserved in symbolism. The Tarot was in fact, Court de Gébelin maintained, a piece of the ‘lost’ Book of Thoth.

McConnachie traces various claims and discoveries about the origins and meaning of the Tarot from a 1939 discovery of a 15th-century deck of Tarot cards in Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace through Alphonse-Louis Constant, known as Éliphas Lévi, linking the major arcana to the Hebrew tree of life.

Before visiting Julie, a professional Tarot reader, McConnachie admits he assumed he was in for a “cold reading” — an interpretation of the process inspired by Ray Hyman’s classic 1977 article in the /Skeptical Inquirer/ which outline tactics the unscrupulous might use to gain insight about their client.

Afterwards, McConnachie still remains skeptical. “Tarot reading works, ultimately, because we make ourselves the willing victims of our cognitive biases,” he writes. Yet he’s impressed by the sincerity of his session. “I certainly came away from my reading feeling pleased with the thoughtful, insightful, loving nature Julie so rightly identified,” he recalls.

In sum, he says Tarot is “a form of informal, popular, easily accessed therapy.”

ELUSIVE BEGINNINGS

Earliest human ancestor lived in Europe according to fossils dated at 7.2 million years.

An international team of researchers uncovered two skeletons in Bulgaria and Greece with human-like teeth dating back 7.2 million years according to research published in the journal PLOS One. The findings potentially rewrite the story of human origins.

Most experts believe humans split from apes around 7 million years ago in central Africa where they remained for 5 million years before migrating elsewhere. The discovery of the hominid named Graecopithecus freybergi, and nicknameded ‘El Graeco' by scientists, indicates humans started to evolve in Europe 200,000 years earlier.

“If accepted, this theory will indeed alter the very beginning of human history,” said lead researcher Professor Madelaine Böhme of the University of Tübingen.

Using computer tomography, the researchers were able to visualize the fossils and show that the roots of premolars were widely fused. “While great apes typically have two or three separate and diverging roots, the roots of Graecopithecus converge and are partially fused - a feature that is characteristic of modern humans,” said Professor Böhme.

Not all the experts are convinced however. Retired anthropologist and author Dr Peter Andrews, formerly at the Natural History Museum in London, remains skeptical. “I would be hesitant about using a single character from an isolated fossil to set against the evidence from Africa,” he said.

MERMAN LIFESTYLES

Brazil’s famous Ipanema beach has a famous merman.

22-year-old Rio de Janeiro resident Davi Moreira loves resting on rocks by the sea in one of his five colorful mermaid tails.

“It’s a lifestyle, a way of expressing my love and respect for the sea and this encounter between two worlds,” he told Agence France-Presse while he leisured on the rocks with his handmade tail glittering in the sun. “When I’m in the water I feel like another person.”

Moreira sports a “Little Mermaid” tattoo and his home is full of Ariel-themed memorabilia including cups, shirts, dolls and a bed-cover.

“People laugh at me because I am different, but I laugh back because they are all the same,” he said. “I’m not trying to escape reality. I know perfectly well how to deal with adult life. But this makes me happy and I’m not causing anyone any harm.”

COSMIC THREADS

Astronomers find mysterious magnetic bridge between two nearby galaxies.

The two nearest galaxies, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC), which are about 200,000 light-years away from Earth, are linked by a magnetic bridge that stretches across 75,000 light-years and is one millionth of the strength of Earth’s magnetic field.

Astronomer’s discovered the field, called the Magellanic Bridge, by looking at distant radio signals which switch polarity when passing between the LMC and SMC galaxies. The effect is called Faraday rotation and occurred when radio waves pass through magnetic fields. While such a phenomenon has long been speculated, this is the first direct observation.

“We don’t know how such vast magnetic fields are generated, nor how these large-scale magnetic fields affect galaxy formation and evolution,” said lead author Jane Kaczmarek from the University of Sydney. “Understanding the role that magnetic fields play in the evolution of galaxies and their environment is a fundamental question in astronomy that remains to be answered.”

Some researchers speculate that such magnetic bridges are leftovers from smaller galaxies being absorbed by larges ones. Uncovering these fields can be difficult because they only appear through interactions with other matter or energy.

SIMPLY ASTOUNDING

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That’s all for this week. Look out next Monday morning!